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Nitric Oxide. 2010 Sep 15;23(2):94-100. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2010.05.286.

Nitric oxide pathway in lower metazoans.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Rome ROMA TRE, Viale Marconi 446, 00146 Rome, Italy.


The presence of nitric oxide (NO) pathway has been well demonstrated in the main invertebrate groups, showing parallel findings on the role of NO in vertebrates and invertebrates. Noteworthy is the example of the role played by the nitrergic pathway in the sensorial functions, mainly in olfactory-like systems. On the other hand, the emerging molecular information about NOSs from lower metazoans (Porifera, cnidarians up to higher invertebrates) suggests that NO pathways might represent examples of a parallel evolution of the NOS prototypes in different animal lineages. Nevertheless, increasing evidence suggests that NO is one of the earliest and most widespread signaling molecules in living organisms. Here, we attempt to provide a survey of current knowledge of the synthesis and possible roles of NO and the related signaling pathway in lower metazoans (i.e., Porifera and Cnidaria), two phyla forming a crucial bridge spanning the evolutionary gap between the protozoans and higher metazoans. From the literature data here reported, it emerges that future research on the biological roles of NO in basal metazoans is likely to be very important for understanding the evolution of signaling systems.

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